When the American League became a Major League in 1901, the star of the new circuit was one Napoleon Lajoie. The great second basemen was the standard to which all other players were measured. No one in the AL quite measured up to the Frenchman, but there was a terrific second baseman on the roster of Connie Mack’s Philadelphia A’s: Danny Murphy.
Murphy originally made his debut with the New York Giants in 1900. Playing time was limited in New York so Danny jumped the Giants (other sources list him as being released by the club) and cast his lot with the Mackmen in 1902. Danny hit .313 his first year with the A’s as Philadelphia won the AL flag. There was no World Series that year since the two Major Leagues were at war with one another.
Connie Mack made Murphy his everyday second baseman in 1903 as Danny rewarded the Tall Tactician with a solid campaign. Had there not been a fellow by the name of Lajoie playing at the time, Murphy would have led American League second basemen in hits. But since the Frenchman was around, Danny had to settle for second fiddle. However, in 1904, Danny was able to top Lajoie and every other middle infielder in the Major Leagues in the homerun department. He and Lajoie were the only Major League second basemen to slug over .400 that season.
The A’s captured the AL flag again in 1905 as Danny led Major League second basemen in RBI and doubles. He legged out 36 doubles that season–no other Major League second baseman reached 30. The A’s, however, lost the World Series to John McGraw’s Giants, but Danny would eventually win two World’s championships.
Cast on the same ballot as Lajoie again in 1906, Murphy and the Frenchman were the only .300 hitting second basemen in the Major Leagues that year. Danny finished fourth in the AL in doubles and posted his third season with a .400 slugging percentage–nothing special today, but in the Deadball Era, it was nothing to turn your nose up to. In 1908, Danny finished as Lajoie’s runner-up in RBI among second basemen again, proving that he couldn’t quite get out from under Nap’s shadow.
With a young Eddie Collins breaking in, Connie Mack shifted Danny to the outfield full-time in 1909. His 14 triples were good for second place that year and he upped his three-bag output to 18 in 1910, but it too was also a second place finish. The A’s however finished first in the American League–finally able to dethrone the Tigers of Cobb. Danny, who was the only .300 hitting right fielder in the junior circuit, put on a clinic in the World Series. He hit .350 with nine RBI in a victory over Frank Chance’s Cubs.
Danny’s last great year came in 1911 when he hit a robust .329 with 104 runs scored. Murphy also took to his new position as he led the league with a whopping 34 outfield assists. The A’s romped their way to another World Series title in 1911 as Danny hit at a .304 clip in the Fall Classic. But as Murphy reached his mid 30s, his playing time declined. When the Federal League began play, Danny jumped his hometown A’s and joined the upstart league’s Brooklyn entry. He ended his playing career with the Brooklyn Tip-Tops in 1915.
G 1,496/R 705/H 1,563/2B 289/3B 102/HR 44/RBI 702/SB 192/BA .289/SA .405/OBP .336